As the world becomes more digitized, billions of internet users provide personal information or sensitive data like credit card details online. Though some online businesses provide a secure channel on their websites for transactions, data privacy issues are still enormous. This is causing unprecedented privacy incidents and inconveniences.

The darker side of not handling privacy thoughtfully includes data loss, identity theft, personal information misuse, cyber threats, and significant financial losses.

The poor handling of customer information or compromise could impact a business’s reputation and how customers trust it.

Data privacy is the fundamental right of all in the digital universe. But is it of any real value to the business and the customer?

It is imperative to understand if data privacy is just a hassle or a compliance checkbox exercise that benefits a business’ reputation, customer, and the data protection agency.

What is data privacy?

Why data privacy matters?

Data is a digital asset that provides significant value for making informed decisions for a business. These decisions help mitigate risks, streamline operations, and drive quality and revenue generation.

Businesses need to be open about how they are storing, using, and protecting customer data. This transparency is also essential to business stakeholders and competitors.

Data privacy is paramount to the safety of our digital economy today because of these two reasons.

Ideological reasons – These include how data privacy perceives an idea by businesses and customers. Some of the considerations include:

  • Your privacy is a right that you were not always given or exercised.
  • Privacy is a fundamental human right on any real-world or digital platform.
  • Having nothing to hide is a myth.

Practical reasons – These include the implementation reasons for data privacy based on its implications.

  • Information in the wrong hands becomes dangerous.
  • It can’t predict how non-compliance to data privacy regulations can impact the business’ future.
  • Context-based privacy data compromise could become a digital weapon.
  • Any sensitive information has value and is directly associated with business revenues.

Important data privacy insights

  • Some of the recent data privacy trends that focus on the importance of its compliance include:

Three factors influencing data privacy

  1. Consent – This has to do with receiving the customer’s consent when data shared with third parties or other entities outside of a data privacy agreement between a business and a client.
  1.  Notice – This includes letting the customers know about the legal collection and storage of their personal data.
  1.  Regulatory restrictions – Remaining compliant with national and international regulations protects businesses from fines and criminal charges and their customers’ right to privacy.

There are many moving parts regarding data privacy, making it imperative to design a website based on the direct approach. Data privacy contributes to the success and longevity of any business through compliance.

Some of the data privacy practices that help website/application designers include:

Privacy by Design

Privacy by Design (PbD) is a design framework (every UX designer must know) under VSD (Values Sensitive Design) developed by Ann Cavoukian initially for systems engineers.

This framework largely and proactively embeds privacy into the design and operation of products and services for non-IT and IT systems, networked infrastructure, and business practices.

In brief, it states that one should minimize the personal data collect by default, keep it secure, and destroy it when it is no longer needed while promoting transparency with users and customers.

Privacy by Design means that organizations need to include privacy from the initial design stages and throughout the complete development process cycle of any new products, processes, or services that involve personal data processing. They also need to ensure there is no zero-sum trade-off between privacy and other interests.

Every UX designer needs to be familiar with the factors and inclusions of data privacy in each of the abovementioned phases.

The seven foundational principles of Privacy by Design (PbD)

1. Proactive not reactive; preventative not remedial

The Privacy by Design approach helps anticipate and prevent privacy-invasive events before they happen. PbD prevents privacy risks and infractions in physical design through organizational practices and regulations. This includes:

2. Privacy as the default

Privacy by Design seeks to deliver maximum data privacy by ensuring that personal data automatically protect in any IT system or business practice. Even if an individual does nothing, their privacy remains intact since it is in-built into the system.

3. Privacy embedded in the design

When embedded in the design and architecture of IT systems and business practices, privacy doesn’t bolt as an add-on. Instead, it remains an essential component of the core functionality deliver without diminishing it.

4. Full functionality – Positive-sum, not zero-sum

Privacy by Design does not merely involve declarations and commitments; it relates to satisfying all legitimate objectives in addition to the privacy goals. Privacy by Design is doubly enabling in nature, permitting full functionality − real, practical results and beneficial outcomes for businesses and customers. It accommodates all legitimate interests and objectives in a positive-sum “win-win” manner and avoids making unnecessary trade-offs.

5. End-to-end security – Lifecycle protection

Privacy by Design is embedded into the system and extends securely throughout the entire lifecycle of the data involved. This ensures that all data is securely reserved and destroyed at the end of the information management lifecycle in a timely fashion.

6. Visibility and transparency


PbD is necessary to establish accountability and trust. It assures all stakeholders that whatever the design practice or technology involved operates according to the stated regulations and objectives, subject to independent verification.

7. Respect for user privacy

PbD helps designers maintain firm privacy defaults, appropriate notice, and user-friendly options that consciously design around individual users’ interests and needs. Respect for User Privacy is made possible by the following FIPs:

Designers need to implement human-centered, user-centric, and user-friendly UX designs to reliably exercise informed privacy decisions.

What does PbD mean for designers?

Nailing Privacy on your Website or Application

Here are some key tactics to balance privacy and design principles perfectly on your website or application.

Cookie banners

While free-to-read ‘journalism’ needs ads to support their business model, it is vital to consider how much data you need to provide the best user experience. The cookie banner is the first thing a user interacts with when he visits your website.

Privacy hub

Using the privacy hub feature, the user can change his cookies settings in detail, request his data, or learn more about your privacy policy. The website design should ensure that,


Designers must use tracking tools like Google Analytics for quantitative data that tests and validates ideas and quantifies user experience as a metric.

Technological infrastructure

Designers of privacy-first websites should choose a technical system that is fully GDPR-approved. An SSL-certified website always garners user trust, primarily when third-party technologies use.

Transparency and trust

Transparency is design influences trust. Designers need to ensure that the design and content of a website are open and communicating in a clear language, look, and feel.

Wrapping up

Together with the seven principles of the Privacy by Design framework, these steps will dramatically change the way UX designers around the world manage data on websites and applications that are GDPR compliant.

Not sure about the GDPR compliance of your UX designs?

Count on Radiant Digital for a quick evaluation and help in championing privacy-first designs.  

by Lam Huynh, Radiant Digital
Principal UX Designer

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